Kosovo has many reasons to celebrate its Liberation Day

Kosovo has many reasons to celebrate its Liberation Day

The Republic of Kosovo celebrates the 25th anniversary of its liberation on June 12 (Reuters)
The Republic of Kosovo celebrates the 25th anniversary of its liberation on June 12 (Reuters)
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There is light at the end of the night. Salvation frees people from fear.

Twenty-five years ago, my country, Kosovo, shook off the dark clouds.

On June 12, the Republic of Kosovo celebrates the 25th anniversary of its liberation, a historical event that changed the fate of our people and enabled the era of peace and stability in the region to begin.

This year also marks the 16th anniversary of our independence and sovereignty, as celebrated on Feb. 17, Kosovo’s Independence Day. Our embassy in Riyadh joyously marked this occasion, which coincided with the 15th anniversary of the forging of diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia.

It is with great honor that today I share glimpses of Kosovo’s progress since its liberation and the recent accomplishments in our harmonious nation.

Kosovo is committed to European and global integration. Presently, Kosovo is recognized by 117 states worldwide and holds membership in more than 50 international organizations. Our aspirations further extend to joining esteemed regional bodies such as the Council of Europe, the EU and NATO.

Our nation has distinguished itself through remarkable advancements in both political stability and economic prosperity

Lulzim Mjeku

Our nation has distinguished itself through remarkable advancements in both political stability and economic prosperity.

Across various indices, Kosovo demonstrates commendable progress and economic growth trajectories. Notably, the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index attests to Kosovo’s third consecutive year of positive advancement in the rule of law. Furthermore, Kosovo’s inclusion in Conde Nast Traveler’s esteemed list of the top 24 destinations to visit in 2024 underscores the allure of its pristine landscapes, which are perfect for immersive hiking and biking experiences.

In a year of unprecedented challenges, Kosovo has fulfilled its commitment to allocate 2 percent of gross domestic product to defense, manifesting a 191 percent increase in the defense budget allocation. This commitment is crucial not only for our nation’s security but also for fostering stability across Europe. Notably, Kosovo last year hosted the Defender Europe 2023 military exercises, marking a significant collaboration with partner nations and reinforcing our contribution to regional stability.

Our economic environment not only remains stable but also exhibits a promising upward trajectory. Over the past two years, Kosovo’s economy has received an infusion of €2.1 billion ($2.26 billion), sustaining an economic growth of more than 3 percent. Particularly noteworthy is the rapid expansion of the information technology sector, with Kosovo’s experts gaining global acclaim for their professional achievements. I am delighted to share that a considerable number of IT applications currently utilized in Saudi Arabia have been developed in Kosovo, reflecting our nation’s expertise and innovation in the field.

A recent World Bank report lauded Kosovo’s robust fiscal stimulus package, the largest in the region at 4.3 percent of GDP, which was aimed at alleviating the financial burdens faced by our citizens amid rising food and energy costs.

Kosovo remains determined in its commitment to sustainable energy solutions, with plans to augment renewable energy production capacities by 1.2 gigawatts by 2030. Notably, the inaugural 100 megawatt solar auction garnered significant interest from leading global firms, exemplifying Kosovo’s strides toward a greener future.

The Republic of Kosovo is an ideal investment destination. Our strategic geographical location, talented youth, skilled workforce and robust legal framework come hand in hand with numerous opportunities to be part of transformational projects.

Cultural exchange between Kosovo and Saudi Arabia thrives, as evidenced by Kosovo’s hosting of Europe’s largest artistic forum. Here, a Saudi painter showcased her work alongside 40 artists from around the globe. Similarly, a Kosovar sculptor participated in the Tuwaiq Sculpture event among 30 artists representing 20 countries. These occurrences highlight the distinct values and assets each nation offers to the world.

Additionally, a significant parallel emerges in the year 2030: Kosovo, a member of the International Olympic Committee, will host the 2030 Mediterranean Games, welcoming 26 nations and nearly 5,000 athletes. Concurrently, Saudi Arabia prepares to host Expo 2030, while its Vision 2030 unfolds, marking a pivotal moment in history.

In Pristina, the capital city of Kosovo, the European Judo Championship found its home, underscoring Kosovo’s emerging status as a global juggernaut in the sport. Among its many triumphs, Kosovo’s judokas consistently secure medals, solidifying their reputation as a powerhouse in the judo world. Notably, Distria Krasniqi’s ascension to the top rank as the world’s No. 1 exemplifies Kosovo’s exceptional talent and unwavering commitment to excellence. This stands as a shining testament to Kosovo’s prowess and unwavering dedication in the realm of judo.

As Kosovo advances along its developmental journey, we hold in high regard our ties with Saudi Arabia

Lulzim Mjeku

Despite our journey toward progress, Kosovo remains mindful of its painful but proud history. Kosovo actively seeks justice for the victims of war crimes and remembers 1,617 missing people. Last July, Kosovo gained membership in the International Commission on Missing Persons and looks forward to contributing as a fully fledged member of this international organization.

Kosovo and its people are grateful to the Council of Europe and its member states for their strong and continuous support, after its Committee of Ministers voted in favor of processing the application of Kosovo to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. As the youngest European state, Kosovo will continue showing its determination to promote the Council of Europe’s values, while hoping to soon find its well-deserved place in the organization.

Kosovo has achieved a significant milestone with its passport ranking, climbing to 47th position globally. Notable recent agreements — including a visa-free regime with the UAE and other Middle Eastern nations — underscore Kosovo’s growing international recognition. According to both the Henley Passport Index and the Global Passport Rank, Kosovo emerged as the most advanced country in 2024 in terms of passport accessibility and global mobility.

As Kosovo advances along its developmental journey, we hold in high regard our ties with Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom recognized the independence of Kosovo on April 20, 2009, before formalizing diplomatic ties on Aug. 7, 2009. These years have not only witnessed the steady growth of our bilateral relations but also the unwavering support of a valued friend.

The Kingdom has consistently stood on the right side of history, exemplified by pivotal moments such as its support for Kosovo’s independence at the International Court of Justice and its backing of Kosovo’s aspirations for membership in various international organizations. This enduring friendship is a cherished gift, symbolizing mutual respect and solidarity.

Our engagement with Saudi Arabia, along with other Gulf and regional nations, spans diverse sectors, signaling a broadening of horizons. Kosovo aspires to deepen these bonds even further, recognizing the promising foundation upon which our bilateral relations are built. Together with these friendly nations, we are committed to leveraging our partnership for the betterment of the international community, while striving for peace, stability and progress.

Long live Kosovo. And long live the enduring friendship between Kosovo and Saudi Arabia. 

  • Lulzim Mjeku is Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
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